Health Effects of Dietary Exposure to Pesticides
This collaborative project of The Organic Center and Professor Lu of Harvard University will examine the health effects associated with dietary pesticide exposure. Dr. Lu’s lab has previously shown that eating an organic diet can decrease exposure to pesticides. Now, we will take that data and re-examine it through the lens of metabolomics, the study of chemical processes that involve metabolites. This research is critically needed; while research studies are increasingly finding pesticides negatively affect human health, public awareness of these findings is low because there are few papers that look at exposure on the dietary level.
Although many scientific journal articles have reported adverse health effects related to low-level chronic exposure to pesticides, due to the narrow scope of these studies, many people are still confused about the benefits of avoiding pesticides in food. Most studies focus on one specific chemical or food type or large-scale exposure through proximity to conventional agriculture. This can lead to difficulty in making broad generalizations about the safety of foods with pesticide residues. Additionally, the narrow scope of these studies makes them more difficult to communicate to the public because connecting them to people’s everyday lives can be challenging.
This project will be directly applicable to consumers by examining levels and frequencies of exposure that are the most common for the general public. In addition to our research, we will communicate our findings with the public to ensure understanding and increase awareness around the issue of pesticide risks.